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Evander Holyfield`s legacy?

By Paul-Jonas Sivertsen: Evander Holyfield is the only 4-time Heavyweight Champion in history (5-time if you count the WBF title he won in 2010). His record stands at 44-10-2-1 (29 KO’s); the record stained with many more losses than it should because he fought far beyond his prime. Now it seems like he finally has hanged up the gloves, not having fought since beating Brian Nielsen in Denmark in 2011.

The question know is how will he be remembered by the future generations?

Holyfield was born on 19th of October 1962 in Atmore, Alabama. He started boxing at age 12, and quickly won many awards as an amateur including a bronze medal at light heavyweight at the 1984 Olympic games in LA. He should have won gold but was controversially disqualified in the semi-final. He turned pro with an amateur record of 160-14. He started out at Light heavyweight but soon had outgrown the divison and turned to cruiserweight. At 23, he was undefeated in 11 fights and challenged future hall of famer Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBA Cruiserweight title. After an epic war over 15 rounds, Holyfield prevailed winning his first world title in only his 12th pro fight. In 1987, he would be named the Ring Magazine fighter of the year beating all the top guys in the cruiserweight division (including knocking out Qawi in the 4th round of the rematch). He seemed unstoppable at cruiserweight and is widely recognized as the greatest cruiserweight of all time.

In 1988, Holyfield became the undisputed champion by stopping Carlos De Leon. After unifying the division he quickly announced he would move up to heavyweight and challenge the seemingly unstoppable champion Mike Tyson for the title. He quickly became the #1 challenger after stopping every opponent in his way, including Pinklon Thomas & Michael Dokes. Tyson then lost his title in the gigantic upset to James “Buster” Douglas, Holyfield knocked out Douglas in the 3rd round with a fantastic counter punch and had became the Undisputed heavyweight Champion of the world.

He had finally done what was his dream to be the heavyweight champion of the world. But he would go on to do even greater things. He defended the title against former champions George Foreman & Larry Holmes. Before he lost it against the much bigger, younger and stronger Riddick Bowe.

In an all out war, the 10th round of this fight is seen as one of the best in heavyweight history. The following year he would regain the title by beating Bowe in the rematch, the infamous “Fan Man Fight”. Holyfield is actually to date the only man to beat Riddick Bowe in a pro fight. But Holyfield then became only the 3rd man to become a 2-time heavyweight champion (the 2 others where Floyd Patterson & Muhammad Ali). He would lose the title in his 1st defense against former light heavyweight champion Michael Moorer. It was said Holyfield had suffered a heart ailment. So he retired with the record of 30-2-0(22ko`s); this was in 1994. He returned the following year beating Ray Mercer, and then losing by an 8th round knockout in the rubber match against Bowe. Holyfield then struggled to beat Bobby Czyz, and Holyfield was at this point seen as a washed up has-been by some people.

Holyfield then finally got the fight against Mike Tyson who also had made his return to the ring making short work of the likes of Bruce Seldon and Frank Bruno. Holyfield was the heavy underdog but still put on the performance of a life time dominating Tyson & stopping him in the 11th. This was without a doubt the biggest moment of his career. An immediate rematch would follow this would at the point set the record for most PPV buys at the time. We all know what happened here. Tyson bit Holyfield in both ears and was disqualified in maybe the most bizarre moments in boxing history.

Holyfield would follow up by trying to unify the division again. He beat Michael Moorer in a rematch and in 1999, he was matched against Lennox Lewis. If Holyfield had won here he would have become the undisputed champion again maybe would have retired but this was not the case. The 1st fight was called a draw in a fight Lewis undoubtedly won, in the rematch Lewis got the decision and it seemed it was the end of Holyfield`s days as a champion. But in his next fight he got a shot at a 4th title against John Ruiz. Holyfield would win and become the only man to be heavyweight champion for the 4th time. He still wanted to unify the division but would loss the title in the rematch to Ruiz. This was the last time he would hold a significant heavyweight title (this was in 2001). But instead he would fight on for a decade, receiving 4 shots at a 5th run as heavyweight champion, falling short each time against the likes of Ruiz again, Chris Byrd, Sultan Ibragimov & Nikolai Valuev; even though I feel Holyfield won clearly against Valuev in 2008. (Had he won he would have become the oldest boxer in history to win a title at 46, a record he would have held until Bernard Hopkins beat Jean Pascal 3 years later).

Holyfield still fought on and won the vacant WBF title beating another aging warrior in Frans  Botha. Holyfield then had no contest fight against Sherman Williams in his next fight, and a win over Brian Nielsen. Now he has not fought in 2 years and seems to finally be retired. But another comeback would not come as a shocker. Holyfield, who turns 51 in October, has always kept in good shape, but his days in boxing should be numbered.

So what is this fighters legacy? I say he is the greatest cruiserweight in history, and one of the greatest heavyweights in history. A prime Holyfield would give trouble to any other heavyweight in history be that Ali, Louis, Foreman, Frazier or Marciano. But his legacy was tarnished by fighting far beyond his prime. I think losing to Lewis in 1999 should have been the end but so it wasn’t. But anyway Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield will always be remembered as a great champion and one of the best of his generation. A gentleman outside the ring never bad mouthing his opponents, but still he was able to sell fights a thing few fighter`s can do today.

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